Exploring the Twin Cities: Minneapolis’ Lakewood Cemetery

We’ve lived in Minnesota for two years, but haven’t spent a lot of time exploring the area and its history. In addition to just being a general book nerd, I also consider myself a history nerd, so I’ve been a little appalled with myself for not getting out to explore more. It’s time to rectify that.

My husband took a brief tour of Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis near Lake Calhoun in April, and he’s been telling me about it ever since. It was only going to be a matter of time before we went.

IMG_8499Every blade in the field, every leaf in the forest, lays down its life
in its season, as beautifully as it was taken up. 

– Henry David Thoreau
(enscribed in Lakewood’s newest mausoleum, a must see modern masterpiece)

We toured Lakewood Cemetery on Memorial Day. There were plenty of activities scheduled for that day–horse carriage rides, trolley tours of the cemetery and the old city streetcar running between the cemetery and Lake Harriet. But on any other day, a self-guided walking or driving tour would provide a great insight to the history of Minneapolis and Minnesota that Lakewood holds.

Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The 250-acre cemetery is covered with trees, providing shade and atmosphere. Countless memorials–to famous, recognizable people and to others–dramatically dot the landscape.

With somewhere near 100,000 dead buried here, the monuments and headstones bely a history that can be both sordid and fascinating–those whose deaths were a scandal and those who died amid a scandal.

Lakewood Memorial Chapel Collage

Lakewood features prominent architectural styles in its monuments, but also in its facilities. The Memorial Chapel, above, is an early 1900s masterpiece that is modeled on the Hagia Sophia on the outside. On the inside, it features beautiful Byzantine mosaics (see the angels on the right top and bottom). But it also features Celtic influences, seen in the cross at the top and some love knots in the stained glass. Most interesting to me during my visit was the arts-and-crafts-style stained glass as somewhat seen in the right middle image. Arts and crafts style was popular at the time. During my visit I was reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. Frank Lloyd Wright included similar stained glass patterns in to his Oak Park, IL homes to provide light but filter out the neighboring houses, which he believed were inferior to his own designs.

Book Recommendation

As I heard a few of the stories of the people (or bodies) who will spend eternity near the shores of Lake Calhoun, I couldn’t help but think of one book.

We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down by Rachael Hanel We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down
By Rachael Hanel
My Review

As a child growing up in rural Minnesota south (and a little west) of the Twin Cities, Hanel spent a lot of time in cemeteries. Her father was a gravedigger and caretaker. Her mother often helped out, so they brought their daughter along with her bike to hang out. Hanel often found herself observing the headstones, considering the dashes and asking her mom to tell her the stories of the individuals buried there. Some of those stories, like the ones Lakewood holds, are full of sordid, tragic details.

Cemeteries Collage

Additionally, if how we handle death interests you, I’d recommend Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach and On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

Lakewood Cemetery and the shores of Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet are must sees when visiting the Twin Cities. You could spend a few hours to an entire day just exploring the area even if you don’t hit up any shops in Uptown. But if you do hit Uptown, make sure you stop at Magers & Quinn Booksellers and support the indy booksellers.

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Twitterature!

I’m excited to participate in my first Twitterature link up with Modern Mrs. Darcy today! Twitterature is her fun way to share quick, little reviews of books read recently.

The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of Storytelling
By Annette Simmons

Start to finish an excellent guide on learning to become an impactful storyteller. #CommunicationsRead

Year of Wonders
By Geraldine Brooks

A year of sadness, wonders and hope. Devastating & uplifting. #MustRead

The Last Runaway
By Tracy Chevalier

Honor Bright is a young idealist, who falls in the face of adversity. #LightHistoricalFic

We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger’s Daughter
By Rachael Hanel

Saddening, enjoyable with a touch of the macabre. #ReadIt

I’m linking this up with Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Weekly Reads: 6.17.13

in which I share my planned reading for the week ahead

How was your weekend? I wanted my husband to have a really fun father’s day. He hasn’t gone fishing yet this summer, but he insisted on doing yard work. We got a bunch done, but, man, I’m sore!

Over the weekend, I started this fun book

We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down by Rachael Hanel

We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down
By Rachael Hanel

It’s definitely shaping up to be the interesting read I was hoping for. I can’t wait for my lunch break today to read some more!

What are you reading this week? Anything fun? Do you have a favorite memoir?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

Weekly Reads: 6.9.2013

in which I share my planned reading for the week ahead

Well, well, well. Another week of reading lies ahead of us. Are you excited? I sure am!

First, I’m finishing up

On the Way Home by Laura Ingalls WilderOn the Way Home
By Laura Ingalls Wilder

On the Way Home, a diary Laura kept during their move from DeSmet, SD to Mansfield, MO, is an odd little book for multiple reasons. I’ll share my insights next month during my “A Little About Laura” blog series.

Then I’ll pick up

A Little House Reader by Laura Ingalls Wilder A Little House Reader
A Collection of Writings by Laura Ingalls Wilder

By this weekend, I’ll be reading

We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down

We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down
By Rachael Hanel

What are you reading this weekend? I hope you have a great week of reading!

**Linked up with Book Journey**

Book Chat | 6.5.2013

Book Chat | The 1000th Voice Blog | Book News, Blog Updates & More!

Book Chat is a monthly feature when I chat about anything
book related: publishing news, books I’m excited
about and more.
Read more Book Chat posts here.

Books on my Summer List

I don’t plan a specific to read list for summer. I don’t usually characterize things as a beach read or a non-beach read. My last beach vacation I read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua: the former might show up on a beach read list, but I doubt the latter would. I usually just think about the books I want to read in general. This summer is no different. As I finish reading the Little House series, I’m looking forward to diving into:

We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down by Rachael Hanel

We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down
By Rachael Hanel

Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende

Maya’s Notebook
By Isabel Allende

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

The Last Runaway
By Tracy Chevalier

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Year of Wonders
By Geraldine Brooks

It’s become quite obvious to me lately, that I tend to prefer female authors. Female authors, or more correctly, authors who also happen to be female are just as good if not better than male authors, but I’ve almost unconsciously gravitated toward them. I like their subjects, particularly the strong female characters that draw me in.

Upcoming Books Reviews

How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley
How Did You Get This Number
By Sloane Crosley
June 12th 

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire & Mockingjay
By Suzanne Collins
June 17th

Socialnomics by Erik Qualman

Socialnomics (Delayed Book Discussion)
By Erik Qualman
June 26th

On the Horizon

all about Laura Ingalls Wilder | The 1000th Voice Blog

Besides reading the great books above and writing views on the other ones, I’ll be hard at work preparing for my Laura Ingalls Wilder series during July. I’m very excited about that, so please come back.